The four-wheeled saviour

4 x 4 Australia - - History -

THE Land Rover Dis­cov­ery is, with­out doubt, one of the most sig­nif­i­cant mod­els in Land Rover’s long his­tory. That ap­plies glob­ally, but it was es­pe­cially so here in Aus­tralia. Up un­til its Down Un­der launch in March 1991 there was only the Range Rover and County for lo­cal buy­ers, with the for­mer al­ready climb­ing high in ask­ing price and thus out of reach of a large per­cent­age of buy­ers. The Dis­cov­ery’s ar­rival – in three-door, 3.9-litre V8 petrol form, backed by a five-speed man­ual gear­box – was a huge boost for Land Rover Aus­tralia. James Scrimshaw agrees.

“It was huge,” he says. “When we first launched it, it was $44,990 and it was the three-door man­ual V8. It was a pretty big car. We only had two cars on the mar­ket at the time, we had the County and we had the Range Rover – so the Range Rover was quite ex­pen­sive in com­par­i­son and then this car came in.”

The Disco’s var­i­ous up­dates – four­door, auto gear­box, etc. – kept it hum­ming along sales-wise, and gave the brand a new lease on life Down Un­der. This was fur­ther em­pha­sised with the roll-on ef­fect of Dis­cov­ery 2 in 1999, then the game-chang­ing Dis­cov­ery 3 (’05) and 4 (’09), all of which were great sales suc­cesses for Land Rover.

“It (orig­i­nal Dis­cov­ery) was the resur­gence of Land Rover in Aus­tralia,” Scrimshaw af­firms. “It car­ried us right through the 1990s and the 2000s (in­clud­ing Disco 2/3/4), so for the past two decades it’s been the most im­por­tant car for us, def­i­nitely.”

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